Trouble Thinking

August 10, 2011

Prequel Adventure is a Sweet Webcomic

Filed under: Comics, The Internet — Tags: , , , , — Durandal @ 6:08 pm

In both the sense of being awesome and the sense of being just completely fucking adorable.

Prequel Adventure is loosely set in I think… Morrowind? But it could sub in any random fantasy setting. It stars a cat, Katia, who is a horrible person with worse luck. She’s got the fantasy adventure beginning down pat, arriving in town penniless and looking for work… but she’s completely unskilled. Weak in body and mind and completely unskilled, she quickly realizes that her life isn’t any better here. I like the inversion of the standard steady progress of an RPG. Katia starts off bad, and while things eventually begin to look up, it’s in no way a steady progression. She tries and fails and makes shitty mistakes that aren’t her fault but ruin things anyway. It’s got a nifty little audience participation thing built in, and the author uses it both as a wellspring for general story ideas and as a way to draw pathos out of a situation by looking at readers shout “no, no don’t do THAT” and then having Katia do it anyway.

It feels genuine, and it manages to be incredibly cruel while never disrespecting the protagonist… well, while only occasionally disrespecting her. She might be a coward and useless, but she’s still a person.

It’s also got a lovely little sketchy occasionally animated cartoon style that is really a joy to look at. It’s not the most complex story so far, but each update is a fun or an excruciating read depending on how well you deal with embarrassment humor. I recommend it heartily, start at the beginning!

May 31, 2011

Why Haven’t You Read Rice Boy?

Filed under: Comics, The Internet — Tags: , , , , , , , — Durandal @ 10:48 am


No, fuck you. You don’t get to just not know about it, that’s what people say when what they mean is “I am a worse human being than I could be, but I’m also so bad and lazy that I won’t fix it bleeeeeeh”. You sound like that. “Bleeeeeh”, yeah it’s disgusting.

Rice Boy is a comic by Evan Dahm that makes comics on the internet worth keeping. It justifies all the hundreds of poorly draw retreads of ancient joke c0nstructions that are trying to be the next Penny Arcade. It’s a massive, interesting, well paced fantasy story starring a little person with no arms or legs, just a sort of well… just a sort of rice boy I guess.

Yeah I don't know how he's picking that fruit.

The art begins and for the most part remains weird and sort of developing. I mean the main character is basically a sketch, and many people are drawn with varying levels of detail. But at the same time it’s so confident that it’s difficult to tell whether certain things look odd due to inability to draw them any other way or due to a stylistic choice. The artwork quickly becomes a defining aspect of the story, helping to characterize the world and the people in it in a manner far more effective than simply attempting to be “realistic” would.

The story, briefly, is about a prophesy and the person who is supposed to fulfill it. It is almost exactly a Hero’s Journey, and plays out in a manner that will be familiar to anyone who’s read Lord of the Rings. But the unique aspects of the story come in the little details about a strange world and the people in it, and in the surprising emotional connections a skilled writer can create using characters that are incredibly foreign. I mean only a few people in the story even have the ability to display human emotions effectively.

The whole thing, about 450 pages, is available online. And that’s only the start! He’s got a bunch of short stories and another complete epic: “The Order of Tales“, as well as a new ongoing called “Vattu“, all of which are really awesome.

Plus, his new stuff has some even more interesting and sweet-looking art.

October 15, 2010

But Ashley is?

Filed under: Comics, Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Katherine Barclay @ 4:12 pm

The internet is a scary place. Anyone who’s been around it for more than five minutes has their share of horror stories attesting to that, and there are times when I have to wonder if it’s worth logging on, when every other click seems to lead to girls and cups and seeing goats.

And then I accidentally find my way to somewhere like this, and suddenly everything is totally worth it.

Hanna Is Not A Boy’s Name is a webcomic described by the artist as “sugarcoated horror”, and if you’re in the market for something new to read, I highly recommend it. Hell, I recommend it even if you’re not! It’s about a endearing young paranormal investigator named Hanna, who is as unrestrainedly enthusiastic as he is dubiously competent. Which you can probably tell almost instantly from looking at him, since shortish indie-looking guys with sideburns and massive glasses are pretty much genetically incapable of being badass, and redheads are pretty much genetically incapable of being mopey, unless I made that up. Anyway, Hanna is.  In a really nice break from the whole bumbling-but-well-meaning mould, though, our protagonist actually seems to have his shit together. He might not be very good at it, always, but he’s got a nice little business set up, he’s got his contacts in place, and he actually has some reasonably nifty magic gadgets that make him a little bit awesome sometimes.  He’s definitely not your average incompetent nerd hero, and his sidekick is anything but an average sidekick. This kickass zombie man has forgotten his name, but it’s not like we’re going to mix him up with anyone, so he doesn’t really need one. Where Hanna is excited about everything, the zombie’s emotions run the gamut from nonchalance to mild interest, with the occasional sidetrips through wit. He doesn’t seem to have any particular skill with investigation or combat, but he’s intelligent and a zombie, and the sheer fact of being a well-spoken revitalized corpse seems to be all the qualifications he’d need.

The rest of the cast include a dorky vampire who has a problem with the notion of bloodsucking, a sleazy chain-smoking med-school dropout who doesn’t like ghosts and has an odd obsession with coats with fur on them, a sassy blue-haired chick who may or may not be connected to a sassy blue-furred were-dog, and a black-and-white man who ticks. Everything in the world Tessa Stone is creating seems to be connected, though the ‘how’ is a bit ambiguous. Characters from early plot lines recur later and seem to have their own ideas about where the story ought to be going. What seems like it’s going to start off as a formulaic Investigator-gets-a-case strip quickly wanders away from that template, following random tangets that end up being interesting in their own right. It means the story is a bit hectic, but I found it a nice change, to have no idea what’s going to happen next in the supernatural investigation genre. The strip has only been in the works for a year or so, so it’s not the longest read and you get the feeling the main story has only just begun, but an almost-daily update schedule means that it’s fast-moving.

Last but not least, I have to applaud the art. First of all, the style remains remarkably consistent between the first page and the most recent. Secondly it’s compelling, with amazing use of colour and dynamic composition and posing. Normally, I go for pretty, polished styles, but Hanna uses rough exaggeration so well I forgot that I don’t normally like this style of thing. Tessa cites Mike Mignola and Mike Krahulik as some of her inspirations, so if you enjoy their work and the rest of my obsessive fangirling hasn’t been enough, you now have another reason to go check  this out.

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